MRS. HARRIET PARKS MILLER
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
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HARRIET PARKS MILLER
"The primitive order with its picturesque
types, has passed with the days that are
dust. The mirthful banjo is mute, and the
laughter, songs, and shouts of the old plan-
tation quarters no longer float out on the
W. P. TITUS, PRINTER AND BINDER
TO THE READER.
In the busy rush of Hfe, the virtues of single
individuals too often escape notice, or make but
slight impression on the minds of their contem-
poraries. It is in after years, when the actors
are dead and gone, that their virtues shine forth,
and speak from the silence, through the pen
of some one who catches them before it is too
No history is richer, or more beautiful, than
that written of lives led by wisdom, and good-
The writing of this little book is inspired by a
desire to perpetuate, as examples, the lives of
such people. While the trend of my thoughts
will center *t. around one special family, — the
Carrs — I shall not omit honorable mention of
other colored citizens, who walked upright among
their fellow men.
I shall also make mention of leading white
people who befriended the colored race in its
early struggles for religious liberty.
I write with the hope, that what I say, will
have a tendency to deepen the sympathy, and
kind feeling which should ever exist between the
two races living together in the South.
Port Royal, Tenn., July, 1911.
Interview with Aunt Kitty Carr, September,
1901, in which she tells of her birth in Virginia,
At six years of age, she was given by her mother
to Mrs. Edmond Winston, who one year later,
brought her to Tennessee. Marriage in early life
to Rev. Horace Carr.
She was free born; effort to deprive her of her
By the assistance of kind white friends, she is
enabled to legally establish her freedom.
Reading of Prayer Book.
Rev. Horace Carr.
His birth in Spring Creek neighborhood, in 1812.
Belonged to Aquilla Johnson, and was sold for
a division of the estate. Bought by Mr. James
0^ Carr, of Port Royal, Montgomery county, Tenn.
^ After master's death, he hires himself from his
^^ mistress, and locates on a retired spot near "Horse
Shoe Bend" of Red River, by permission of Mr.
William Weatherford, its owner. Mode of making
a living. Joins Red River Church, and is ordained
to preach. Invitation by Mr. E. L. Fort, to
preach on his premises.
Worship of the two races together, in ante-
Department in white churches for colored wor-
Civil war brings changes, and they have churches
and schools of their own.
Sketch of Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal,
Tenn., who gave land on which to build Mount
Zion, one of the first colored churches in Middle
Amusing story of Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Hawkins,
of Turnersville, Robertson county, Tenn.
Aunt Kitty describes her vision, or dream, in
which the future Mount Zion appeared to her.
It takes tangible form, and Rev. Horace Carr
assembles his people under a large white oak tree
on the lot donated by Dr. Norfleet, and assisted
by Revs. Chess Ware, and Ben Thomas, of Guthrie,
Ky., organizes the church.
First house of worship soon erected. Too
small, and later torn away to give place to larger
Two buildings burned, but the faithful Chris-
tians did not lose hope.
List of charter members.
Younger generation following the religious foot-
steps of their ancestors.
Mr. William Bourne gives lot for burying
Rev. Althens Carr.
Birth and early life. Obtains education under
An eloquent pulpit orator.
Two funeral sermons heard by the writer.
William, and Jack Northington, two worthy
Why Uncle Arter Northington was called
Rev. Horace Carr tells of an antebellum corn
shucking on Mr. Waters' farm.
Describes great excitement in Port Royal neigh-
borhood, the night the stars fell, November, 1833.
Rev. J. W. Carr.
First work from home, and beginning of his
Letter of appreciation to Port Royal friend, a
short time before his death at Savannah, Georgia,
Statistics showing great progress of the colored
Baptists of United States, Georgia leading the
Southern States along this line.
Interview with Rev. Luke Fort (col.,) of Guthrie,
Ky., in w^hich he tells of first sermon he ever heard
Rev. Horace Carr preach.
Was the latter 's son-in-law nineteen years.
Describes a patroler raid on a quiet meeting being
held one Saturday night on the E. L. Fort plan-
Joe Gaines 'opossum, cooked for the Port Royal
merchants, turns to a housecat, and he is made
to eat same.
History of Benevolent Treasure Society, No. 7.
Visit to Aunt Eliza Gaines Williams. She
talks pleasantly of her white people, the Norfleets,
Describes last visit to Rev. Horace Carr.
Second visit, for the purpose of taking her picture.
She was eight} -two, and this was her first picture.
Dan, and Jerry Fort, aid materially in securing
Mount Zion Church history.
Uncle John McGowan.
His early life.
Tells of a chicken fry, and what it cost him.
Describes how he was sold.
Passing events of his life.
Tribute to the late E. L. Fort.
History of Port Royal, Tennnessee.
Passing of four of the most prominent members
of the Carr family.
Sketch of Captain C. N. Carney, one of the
early settlers of Montgomery county.
Loyalty of his colored people, beginning first,
with Uncle Isaac, the faithful blacksmith on the
Rev. Peter Carney (col.), Presbyterian minister,
and remarkable character.
Aleck Carney, a useful citizen, and church
Betsy Neblett, his late sister, the "Good Samar-
itan" of her neighborhood.
THEY HAVE GONE FROM OUR MORTAL VISION,
BUT IN MEMORIES SWEET, THEY ABIDE WITH US."
The people whom you will meet in this little
book did not live in fancy.
They were humble instruments through whom
God sent a message clear, and strong, that will
go on, and on, through the coming years.
Realizing the rapidity with which the good old
colored types were passing away, I went one
September afternoon, 1901, to see Aunt Kitty
Carr, for the purpose of obtaining some interesting
facts concerning herself, and her remarkable
Her husband, Uncle Horace Carr, had been
dead twenty-four years, and she was then living
with her son Horace, at his farm on Red River,
a mile or two from Port Royal, Tennessee.
I found her on the back porch peeling peaches
to dry, and when I made known to her the intent
of my visit, she was amused, and said, "Lor Miss
Aunt Kitty Carr.
Harriet, what am / say, that will be worth read-
ing in a book?"
On assuring her of the esteem in which she and
her family were held, and the importance of such
lives being left on tangible record, she seemed
willing to tell me, in her quaint way, what I
wished to know.
Aunt Kitty was a small yellow woman, of
refined features, and dignified bearing.
She spoke as follows:
"Of course you have heard that I was free
"Yes," I replied, "you were the first free born
person of your race, that I ever saw."
"I was born near Spottssylvania, Virginia, in
1815. That's been a long time ago. I'll soon
be eighty-six years old. My children, and grand-
children are kind to me, and don't want me to
work, but I am not satisfied to sit idle.
My father was a Frenchman of some importance,
by the name of Truell; my only recollection of
him was his long curly hair that came down to
his shoulders. My mother was free born, and
gave me away.
"One bright spring day she was sweeping her
front yard, and I, a little girl of six years, was
taking up the trash, that she swept together,
when a pretty white girl sixteen, or seventeen,
rode past the gate, and called for a drink of water.
As she handed the drinking gourd back, she said,
'That's a handy little girl you have there, I wish
you'd give her to me.' 'All right,' mother replied,
and the lady passed on, and nothing more was
thought of it, till nearly a year afterward, a nice
covered wagon drove up to our gate, and the
same lady called for me.
"A few days before, she had married a Mr.
Edmond Winston, and they were going to house-
"My mother gathered together my little budget
of clother, and handed little Kitty, and the
clothes over to the colored driver, saying, 'Here
"And they took me; I have never thought
mother acted right.
"The new married couple lived in Virginia
about a year after that, when they decided to
come to Tennessee, and brought me with them.
We came a long journey, in that same covered
wagon, and settled in District No. 1 , Montgomery
county, near where Fortson's Spring now is.
"They were as kind to me, as they could be,
and I was content to stay with them.
"After coming to Tennessee, Mr. Winston did
not live very long, and his widow, after a respec-
table time, married a Mr. Coleman, grandfather
of the first Mrs. Polk Prince, and great grandfather
of Mrs. Lewis Downer, of Guthrie, Ky.
"But I was always called Kitty Winston.
The Colemans and Johnsons were related, and
through their visiting from Fortson Spring neigh-
borhood to Spring Creek, farther down toward
Clarksville, I met my lifetime companion.
"He was the property of Mr. Aquilla Johnson,
of Spring Creek, and was first known as Horace
"We were married when we were both quite
young. Soon after our marriage, it was necessary
to make a division of the property, and Mr.
Johnson sold my husband to Mr. James Carr, of
Port Royal, grandfather of Mr. Ed, and Ross
We had not been long settled down to quiet,
peaceable living in our little cabin home, when
it began to be whispered around among a cruel
class of white people called overseers, that I could
be deprived of my free birth right, and made a
slave. Of course it made me very unhappy, and
I prayed earnestly over the matter.
I went to sertain good white friends who had
known me longest, and laid the case before them,
and they advised me to go to Esq. Dick Blount,
of Fortson 's Spring, and he would fix up some
papers that would establish my freedom for all
time to come.
"I put out for the Blount home in haste, my
husband going with me. When we reached there,
a member of the Esquire's family told me he was
drunk, but if I could wait an hour or two, he
might be sober enough to talk to me. Of course
I waited. We were seated in the back yard, and
a quiet couple we were, for it was a solemn time
in our lives.
"By, and by, we saw the Esquire came out on
the back porch, and washed his face. I whispered
and asked Horace, if he reckoned he was washing
the drunk off.
"We walked up to the door, and told our mis-
sion; Esq. Blount advised us to go on to Clarks-
ville, and said he would follow on shortly.
"We waited, and waited, on the Court House
steps, and I had about decided he was not coming,
when we looked up the street, and saw him.
"He took an iron square, and measured my
height, wrote a description of my features, and
asked me if there were any scars on my body. I
knew of none, except a small one the size of a
silver dime, on the back of my neck, caused from
the deep burning of a fly blister. I showed him
"He kindly fixed up the papers, and handed
them to me. I kept them closely guarded, till
my oldest daughter, Mary X^'aters, was going to
move to the State of Ohio to live, and not knowing
what might happen to her there, she asked me
for them, and I willingly gave them to her. I
always regretted that I did not keep a copy, for
it would be a curiosity to the present genera-
As she quietly sat, and told me all this, her
grand daughter, Eleanora Carr Johnson, was an
attentive listener, never having before, heard such
details of antebellum history. The afternoon
seemed too short; so pleasant was the interview
that I regretted not having gone oftener, to see
her. She referred incidentally to a little prayer
book, "Morning and Night Watches," by Rev.
J. R. McDuff, D. D., from which I had often read
to her, in days gone by, and expressed a desire to
hear a certain chapter once more.
Feeling that she would enjoy hearing it, I had
carried the little book along with me, and read
to her as follows: "May it be mine to cheerfully
follow the footstexjs of the guiding Shepherd
through the darkest, loneliest road, and amidst
thickest sorrows may I have grace to say, 'Though
He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.' "
"Lord, increase my faith, let it rise above all
trials, and difficulties. And if they arise, may
they only drive me closer to Him who has promised
to make me more than conqueror. I am a pil-
grim, pitching my tent day, by day, nearer
heaven, imbibing every day more of the pilgrim
character, and longing more for the pilgrim's rest.
"May I be enabled to say, with the chastened
spirit of a passing world, 'Here I have no con-
"May this assurance reconcile me to all things-
"Lord, hasten Thy coming, and Thy kingdom.
"Scatter the darkness that is hovering over
"Stand by Thy Missionary servants. Enable
us all, to be living more from day to day, on Thy
grace, to rely on Thy guiding arm with more
childlike confidence, looking with a more simple
faith to Thy finished work.
"Be the God of all near, and dear to me.
"May all my ties of blood, scattered far and
wide over the earth, be able to claim a spiritual
relationship with Thee, so that those earthly
bonds of attachment, which sooner or later, must
snap asunder here, be renewed, and perpetuated
before the great white throne."
As I read, she clasped her hands and looked
reverently upward, as if her soul were drinking
in the spirit of the great writer.
She followed me to the front gate, and thanked
me for my visit.
It was the last time I ever saw her.
MARK THE PERFECT MAN, AND BEHOLD THE
UPRIGHT, FOR THE END OF THAT MAN IS PEACE."
Having given my opening chapter to an inter-
view with Aunt Kitty, I will now tell of her hus-
band, Rev. Horace Carr, who was born on the
Aquilla Johnson farm, on Spring Creek, in District
No. 1, Montgomery county, Tenn., 1812. By
way of explanation, I will state that white children,
in antebellum times, were taught by their parents,
to call middle aged colored people Aunt, and
Uncle; hence "Aunt Kitty," and "Uncle Horace,"
by the writer.
From early childhood, Uncle Horace was noted
for his truth, and honesty.
In maturer years, strongers who met him on
the highway, were impressed by his polite manners,
and upright countenance.
The late Col. Jno. F. House, of Clarksville, once
said of him, that he had the dignified bearing of
He was married during the early 30 's, and was
often heard to say, that God never sent him a
greater blessing than Kitty Winston.
It will be remembered that the offspring of a
free born parent, either mother, or father, was
also free, and after several sons, and daughters
were given to Aunt Kitty, and Uncle Horace,
they desired to be in a home of their own; Mrs.
Carr having become a widow, she was adminis-
tratrix of a very nice little estate, and Uncle
Horace was one of her most valuable slaves, and
when it was talked around that he wished to hire
himself from his mistress, ver)^ few believed that
she would consent for him to leave the prem-
He first talked to influential citizens of his
neighborhood, as to the possibility of securing
a suitable location for his humble home, and
Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal, promised to
use his influence in that direction.
So he sent to Mr. William W^eatherford, owner
of a fine farm on Red River, in sight of Port Royal,
and laid the case before him.
In the meantime. Uncle Horace summoned up
courage enough to propose hiring himself from
Miss Nancy, as he called Mrs. Carr, for the sum
of $200.00, to which she consented.
Mr. Weatherford kindly granted the homestead
Cabin (Aunt Judy's House) on the old Fort Plantation,
in which Rev. Horace Carr preached
his first sertnon.
site, nc^nr a secluded place on his plantation, known
as "Horse Shoe Bend."
A small log house was soon erected, and the
Carr family, with their scant belongings went to
And now the problem of making a living con-
How was it to be done?
"We will work, and save, and trust in the
Lord," Uncle Horace would say-
And they did.
He made boards, bottomed chairs, did crude
carpentering, and kept the ferry on Red River,
at Port Royal, during the high water season,
while his industrious little wife spun, wove, sold
ginger sakes to the village groceries; no\^^ and
then, accompanying the stork on its grand mission
of leaving rosebud baby girls, and boys in the
homes of families, where she remained a week or
two, with their mothers, in the capacity of a
tender and experienced nurse.
There are many mature men and women in
our midst today, who first opened their baby eyes
under Aunt Kitty's watch-care.
She and Uncle Horace were economical, and
usually saved fifty, or seventy-five dollars, above
his promised wages to Mrs. Carr.
On Christmas eve morning, of each year, after
moving to their home near Horse Shoe Bend, he
would wend his way quietly back to the old Carr
homestead, with his well earned $200.00 for Miss
Nancy, who always felt safe in making her Christ-
mas purchases a week or two ahead of the holiday
season, knowing he would be true to his promise.
And she always had a present for his family, often
a pig, with some corn to feed it.
People of that date, were practical, in their
present making, at Christmas time. Uncle Horace
professed religion when quite young, during a
revivial at Red River Church, under the ministry
of Elder Reuben Ross, a distinguished pioneer
Bapitst who came from North Carolina, to Ten-
nessee, over a century ago.
After his profession, he felt a great desire to
preach, and as the years passed, the desire grew
stronger, till he felt convinced that he was Divinely
called. So about ten years before the Civil War,
he was ordained to preach.
His ordination took place in Red River Church,
the primitive building on the hillside, a mile or
two north west of Adams, Revs. F. C. Plaster,
and W. G. Adams, officiating.
There was a large congregation present, and
the ceremony was said to have been a very impres-
Mr. Lawson Fort was present and took great
interest in the proceedings, and followed Uncle
Horace out on the church grounds and said to
"Horace, I am a Baptist preacher's son, but
I do not belong to any church, though I have
great respect for religious people.
"I want to say to you, whenever you feel like
preaching, or holding a prayer meeting, come to
my house, and feel welcome, and I will see to it
that you are not disturbed by patrolers.
"You will understand, Horace, that my negroes
are first-class, and I don't care to have a mixed
crowd on my premises at night. I guess your
little family, and my thirty or forty, will give you
a pretty fair congregation. It will be best to
hold your meetings in Judy's house, as she has
no small children.
"She has her Indigo dye-pots setting around
in every corner, but I guess she can move them
"Judy prays, Margaret shouts, and John exhorts,
so it seems, that among them all, you might get
up some pretty good meetings."
"May the Lord abundantly bless you. Mars
Lawson, for such kindness to a race striving under
difficulties, to serve God," Uncle Horace replied.
Prior to this, he had only held religious services
in his own home, but the invitation from Mr.
Fort gave him fresh courage, and he retired that
night with thankfulness in his heart, and a firm
resolve to live up to the Divine light that had
been given him.
Of the two ministers who assisted in Uncle
Horace's ordination, I will speak briefly.
Rev. W. S. Adams was the eldest son of Reuben
Adams; the latter came to Tennessee from North
Carolina in 1812, and settled on the bank of Red
River in Robertson county, near where the first
old Red River Church building stood.
He was a penniless orphan boy, but by industry,
and economy, was soon able to buy a small farm.
Land at that date, was very cheap.
He was married early in life, to Miss Priscilla
Robinson, who made him a pleasant companion.
In the early 50 's, the Edgefield and Kentucky
Railroad Co. had civil engineers to blaze the path
for the first railroad that ran through this section.
A depot was built, and the little station called
Adams, in honor of Mr. Reuben Adams. On
account of this railroad passing through his
premises, the value of his land was greatly in-
creased, and from that time on, he was able to
assist his children financially.
Growing up while his father was poor, Rev.
William Adams had but few educational advant-
ages. He professed religion in his youth, and
was often heard to remark, that most he knew
of the Bible, was learned in Sunday school.
He was twice married, the first time to Miss
Batts, of Robertson comity, and second, to Miss
Kosure, of Madisonville, Ky. Eight or nine
children by his first marriage are all dead, while
two by his second, also an aged wife, survive him^
and live in Texas.
Rev. Adams spent thirty odd years in the
ministry. In the early 80's he moved from
Robertson county to Nashville.
One morning he rose early, and remarked to
his wife, that he felt unusually well, and wished
to put in a good day's work among the afflicted
of the neighborhood, and spoke of first visiting
Mrs. Jones across the street from his home (nee
Miss Lizzie Frey) , who had been one of his favorite
members of Little Hope Church, in Montgomery
Soon after breakfast, he stood before a mirror
in the family room shaving, when his wife sitting
near, noticed him turn suddenly pale, and stagger.
She assisted him to a chair, and he died almost
instantly, from heart failure.
Rev. F. C. Plaster, was born in Logan county,
Ky., 1805. He was of humble parentage, and
like Rev. Adams, had no educational advantages.
At sixteen years of age, he joined Red River
Church, and at twenty, he felt the Divine call
to preach, and so zealous was he, that it was said
of him, that while plaining lumber at the car-
penter's bench, he kept his open Bible before
him, studying the Scriptures while he worked.
He was a man of commanding appearance, and
a fine pulpit orator. He was tw4ce married, and
was the father of several sons, and daughters, by
his first marriage. Both of his wives were Ken-
tuckians, and most estimable women. In 1879,
he moved with his family to Fort Deposit, Ala.,
and from there, a few years later, he passed from
IN TRAVELING FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT,
THE ROAD IS NO WIFER FOR THE PRINCE, THAN
THE PEASANT." — San.no Panza.
In that period of our country's history known
as "slave time," the white people encouraged the
colored race to serve God, and received its con-
verts into their own churches, and worshipped
In most of the meeting houses, there were
galleries, or separate apartments, in which the
colored members sat, and listened to the Gospel
preached by white ministers.
Their membership was received into the Baptist
Associations, on equal terms, and the colored
ministers often preached during the several days
sessions of these assemblies. Elder Horace Carr
did, when the Association was held at Red River
Speaking of the separate apartments in the
churches, the writer has a vivid recollection of the
orderly colored congregation that occupied the
upper gallery of old Harmony Church, three miles
south of Port Royal, in Robertson county.
Near the front, could be seen such devout
Christians as old Uncle Allen Northington, Aunt
Sydney Norfleet, Aunt Sylvia Carney, Aunt Lucy
Parks, Aunt Becky Northington, Aunt Cely North-
ington, etc. It was a rare occurrence that a
colored child was seen at church, but you would
notice numerous white children sitting in the
laps of their good old "Black Mamm3^s" as they
called them. But while this Christian brother-
hood was being enjoyed, another day was dawn-
ing, in which a new order of things was to take
place. The primitive order, with its picturesque
types, was doomed to pass away. The broad
plantation of the old Southern planter was to
undergo material changes, and every influence for
good was becoming more and more in unison with
the great master chord of Christianity.
Surely the hand of Divinity was in it all, or it
would not have been so.
The Civil War came on, and the Institution of
Slavery was abolished.
It was not only Aunt Kitty Carr, Uncle Gran-
ville Wimberly, and a few others, that were
referred to, as "free born," but all were free!
The desire for schools and churches of their
-liiiSi, 1 ,.; _ ii'.j""''^^8'".". >•> i^Jlb^^ J< iM^^^B
'Riverside;" home of the late E. L. Fort.
own was awakened, and the right kind of white
people were ready, and willing, to lend them a
helping hand. Among the first to lead substan-
tially in this direction, in Montgomery county,
was Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal.
Brief sketch of this fine old gentleman: Dr.
Philip Ford Norfleet was born in the early part
of the past century, at his father's homestead on
the Nashville road, one and a half miles south of
Port Royal. In later years the place was known
as the Dr. J. T. Darden farm.
In his early twenties he was sent to a medical
college, and was later on considered one of the
best physicians of his day.
He was a charter member of Harmony Mis-
sionary Baptist Church, organized in 1835, and
while it was said of him, that he sowed his share
of wild oats in early life, after joining the church
he doubled his diligence in good works.
He was married during his twenties, to Miss
Elvira Hopson, and several children blessed their
He was a man of wealth, owning a large cotton
plantation near Friar's Point, Mississippi, to which
he made annual trips on horseback, usually at
crop selling time, and returning with vast sums
Not caring to risk the health of his large and
happy family, in the malarial districts of the
Mississippi swamps, he made his home at Port
The original Norfleet residence, with few excep-
tions, remains intact, and is at present owned and
occupied by Mr. W. E. Alley, a prosperous farmer,
and substantial citizen of Montgomery county.
For the benefit of his family. Dr. Norfleet kept
a number of efficient servants.
Among them two very refined house maids,
Kitty Hopson and Adeline Norfleet; Frank, the
carriage driver; Mary, the cook, and Louis, a
Of these, only one survive, Adeline, who in
her old age, finds no greater pleasure than in
talking of her white people.
Although the Norfleets were the acknowledged
aristocrats of the country, they were also benevo-
lent to a marked degree.
Apropos of their liberality, I deem it not amiss
to mention the case of Ed and Fronie Hawkins,
a very unique, feeble minded couple of white
people, who lived in a small one-room log cabin,
near Turners ville, in Robertson county, and sub-
sisted mainly on charity.
Mr. Hawkins, familiarly known as "Old Ed,"
was a tall, lank figure, with a shock of long sandy
hair, that hung in strings around his neck, while
his sallow complexion and deep set small blue
eyes, completed the make-up of an unattractive
Fronie, his dumpy dame, in point of height,
measured very little above her husband's slender
waist. She had small brown eyes, fair com-
plexion, and an abundant suit of coarse red hair,
which she wore in a massive club, or coil, at the
nape of her neck, held in place by a rusty horn
About three times a year, they made begging
trips to Port Royal, Dr. Norfleet's home being
their objective point.
Fronie would generally start a few days in
advance of her husband, in order to get her charity
He would follow later, and help carry them
Dr. Norfleet wore white linen suits in summer^
and on one occasion, gave Fronie a second hand
suit for Ed.
Dr. Norfleet was tall, and his pants legs were
long, so she conceived the idea of packing her
donations in the legs of those he had given her.
She sewed up the legs at the bottom, put a stout
loop on the back of the binding at the top, and
hung her improvised receptacle on a hook behind
the office door; everything that was given to her,
she dropped it down the pants legs — sugar,
coffee, second-hand clothes, chunks of meet, etc.,
all in a jumble.
When they were well nigh full, she began to
wish for Mr. Hawkins. He came at last, and she
led him to look behind the door.
He was delighted, and scarcely taking time to
rest from his journey of six miles on a warm day,
he placed the well stuffed pants astride his neck,
and struck out up the Nashville road, without
even bidding Dr. Norfleet's family good bye.
Fronie followed close at his heels, holding by
the legs, in her right hand, a fine fat pair of Mus-
covy ducks, Mrs. Norfleet had given her. On
passing Mr. William Brown's residence, just up
the road, Mr. Brown's son, Robert, happened to
be at the front gate; young Robert Bourne had
a keen sense of humor, and their ludicious appear-
ance threw him into such a fit of laughter that
he rolled over and. over on the ground.
But the Hawkins's kept straight ahead, bound
for Turners vi lie before sunset, but they were
doomed to an unexpected delay.
The ducks grew heavy, and Fronie set them
down by the roadside to rest her tired arm.
It happened that she stopped at the head of
the ten-foot deep gully, just beyond the old
Mallory homestead, where the old Harmony
Church road branched off to the right from the
niain Nashville route. The ducks set to fluttering,
and tumbled down the embankment and into the
gully, breaking the string that held them together.
Ed flew into a rage, because she let, them get
away, and swore he'd whip her on the spot, if
she did not catch them. She chased them up
and dowm the gully till she was almost exhausted,
when a passing fishing party came to her assist-
The late George Washington's family con-
tributed liberally to the support of this couple,
and in speaking of the Washington home, Fronie
always referred to it as "the fat house," meaning
The young people of Port Royal neighborhood,
spent many pleasant times in years gone by,
masquerading in comic costumes, as Ed and
They were known far and wide, as a very
amusing couple, but when old age came to them,
and the liberal friends who had kept "the wolf
from their cabin door" had passed away, it
became necessary for them to be carried to the
county poor house, and from there, I'm sure, their
innocent souls went straight to heaven.
WHO OF US CAN SAY, WHICH IS FAIRER, THE
VISIONS OF HOPE, OR MEMORY'' THE ONE MAKES
ALL THINGS POSSIBLE, THE OTHER MAKES ALL
In the holy hush of that September afternoon,
Aunt Kitty told me of a vision that she had, during
the middle 60's.
It was my last talk with her, and she seemed
SO impressed with the memory of it, that she laid
aside her peach peeling, and gave her mind, and
soul, to the subject so dear to her heart.
She said: "Some people call them dreams, but
I call them visions. Ever since God spoke peace
to my soul, I had prayed for religious liberty for
my people; so great was my desire in this par-
ticular direction, that it seemed as a heavy
weight that was bowing me down.
"But one night, about midnight, the burden
seemed to be lifted from me. The deep darkness
drifted away, and it seemed that the sun shone
everywhere, and in a certain direction, I saw a
long grassy slope stretch far away before me.
"I could not tell at first, what it meant, for I
saw nothing but space. By and by, a small
tab.e appeared, and seemed to come nearer and
"I looked away, and wondered, and then I
looked again, and a Bib't was on the table.
"The third time I cast my eyes, lo and behold!
there stood my old man behind the table, the
Bible was open, and he was slowly reading from
its sacred pages!
"Miss Harriet, this may all sound very strange
to you, but that vision was as plain to me, as the
sight of you, sitting here before me.
"The old man had been working away from
home all the week, so I got up next morning and
went about my daily duties without telling my
children what I had seen.
"Saturday night he came home, and after hold-
ing family prayers, and everything was quiet
about the house, I told him of my vision — and
listen, oh, it was joy to my soul! He told me
that Dr. Norfleet wanted us to have a place of
worship, and that he was willing to give us land
on which to build a church, about an acre, on
the hillside, between Mr. Bourne's spring and
Sulphur Fork Creek. And he said that many
other white friends would give lumber, and small
sums of money.
"Miss Harriet, we re^oiced together that Satur-
day night, as we never had before. We had
been reaching our feeble arms toward Heaven a
long time, pleading for the blessing that was now
Thirty odd years had passed, and a new genera-
tion had come, but the flight of time only served
to sweeten the sound of her story. As I bade
her good bye, I was deeply conscious that I would
never see her again, for she was growing too
feeble to leave home, and I drove off, feeling
spiritually benefitted from contact with such a
Christian character as Aunt Kitty Carr.
One Autumn afternoon in ISO?, a large crowd
of the best colored people of Port Royal and
surrounding neighborhoods, assembled on the hill-
side where Mount Zion now stands, and organized
Elder Horace Carr was assisted in the organiza-
tion by Revs. Chess Ware and Ben Thomas, of
Guthrie, Ky. Elder Carr stood under a large
white, oak tree, and led in the movement, while
his hearers sat around on rails, logs, stumps, etc.
It was a movement destined to mean much to
the colored people of Robertson "and Montgomery
Mount Zioii, Colored Baptist Church, near
Port Roval. Tennessee.
counties. Located as it was, near the county
line, its membership was composed largely of
both counties, but since then, other churches have
sprung up, and many of the Mount Zion members
joined those nearer their homes.
Alfred Pitt (col.) took the contract for building
the first house of worship. It was 30x30 feet,
and erected in a very short time.
Most of the white citizens of the neighborhood
contributed either lumber or small amounts of
money, and when the crude little building appeared
on the hillside, all eyes turned to Uncle Horace,
as the good shepherd to lead the little flock of
seventy odd miembers.
This first church building, was also used for a
school-room, in which was taught one of the first
colored schools in Middle Tennessee, during what
was termed the "Reconstruction Period;" in
other words, the years immediately following the
Civil War, when both races were adjusting them-
selves to the changed conditions brought about
by the emancipation of the slaves.
This school was taught by Miss Denie Sims, a
nice, refined young woman from Clarksville, Tenn.,
who conducted not only herself, but her school,
so well, that she was highly esteemed by both
white and colored people of Port Royal neigh-
The first building being too small to accommo-
date the congregations that rapidly increased in
numbers, it was torn away after standing two or
three years, and replaced by one of 36x40 feet.
This stood five years, and was burned at night
by unknown parties. Circumstantial evidence
pointed strongly to certain people, but there was
no positive proof.
After the excitement, incident to such an
occurrence, had subsided, Uncle Horace gathered
together a portion of his little flock, and cautioned
them to say no harsh words, that all would be
well, for he felt that the good people who had
assisted them before, would do so again, and they
would rebuild. They rebuilt on the same founda-
tion, and all went right for a few years, or, until
a band of colored gamblers became a menace to
law, and order. So bold did they grow in their
wickedness, that one night they actually gambled
in front of the church door, from the same light
that guided the good minister in reading the
Gospel from the sacred desk!
It was more than the Christian congregation
could stand, and strenuous measures were taken
against the offenders.
That same week Mount Zion again went up in
flames, but faith, and persistency', are Life's
architects, and the fourth building was erected,
and there it stands today, a monument to the
courage of a faithful few.
For the benefit of those who would hke to know
the charter members of Mount Zion Church, I
give below a list of their names; true it is, a few
may have been overlooked, but in the main, they
are as follows:
Rev. Horace Carr.
Horace Carr, Jr.
Rev. Althens Carr.
George Francis Fort.
Rev. John Fort.
Bear John Grant.
Sallie Ann Herring.
With few exceptions,
nearly all of the above
charter members had been m^embers of Red River
and Harmony churches before the Civil War.
Scarcely a dozen of them remain with us in the
During its forty-four years' existence, Mount
Zion has had the following pastors:
Rev. Horace Carr.
Rev. Altheus Carr.
Rev. Edmond Northington
Rev. Paul Dennis.
Rev. George Mimms.
Rev. Turner Parish.
Rev. M. Fox.
Rev. L. Jones.
Rev. A. J. Moore, D. D.
Of the original Deacons, only one is alive, Aleck
Carney, the other six in active service are:
It is a noticeable fact, that the second and
third generations of some of Mount Zion's charter
members, are at present among its best workers;
as for example. Rev. John Fort's son Dan, and
grandson George, upon whose shoulders a father's
religious mantle has fallen.
Soon after the donation of land by Dr. Norfleet
for Mount Zion Church, Mr. William Bourne, on
an adjoining farm, gave land for a colored ceme-
Mr. Bourne was a citizen of fine standing. He
was the son of Ambrose Bourne, a prominent
pioneer Baptist minister.
By strange coincidence. Rev. Ambrose Bourne
helped organize Red River Church, 1791, within
a few hundred yards of where Mount Zion now
Red River is one of the oldest Baptist churches
in Tennessee, and the Bourne Spring at that date,
was called Prince's Spring, and the little log
church building was known as Prince's meeting
house. After its removal to Robertson county
it took its name from its nearness to Red River.
In the early days most of the churches took their
names from the streams nearest which they were
located, as Spring Creek, West Fork, Red River,
etc. Rev. Horace Carr named the church he
loved so well, from the New Testament. Hebrews
12: 22, in which Moses said, "But ye are come
unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living
God, the heavenly Jerusalem." etc.
THE MAN WHO SPEAKS, MAY, IF HIS MESSAGE
IS GREAT ENOUGH, AND GREATLY DELIVERED, RANK
ABOVE THE RULERS OF HIS TIME."
It seems that a love for the ministry, was
inherent in the Carr family, and it is also a notice-
able fact, that few, if any of them, have departed
from the Baptist faith; beginning with Uncle
Horace, and descending to his two sons, Altheus
and William, on down to his grandson. Rev.
Thomas Carr, of Kansas, son of the late Calvin
Carr, of Cheatham county.
Altheus, the fourth son of Uncle Horace, and
Aunt Kitty, was born near Port Royal, Tenn., in
the early SO's. He was obedient to his parents
from his early childhood.
While a day laborer on the farms around Port
Royal, he manifested a thirst for knowledge, and
while his plow team rested their noon hours rest,
he was not idle. He could be seen lying around
under the shade trees, either with a book in his
hand or a pencil and paper.
By saving his wages, and receiving financial
aid from friends, he was enabled to take a theo-
logical course at Fisk's University, Nashville,
He was a negro of commanding appearance,
and polite address, and after the death of his
father, September, 1877, he was pastor of Mount
Zion Church continuously for nine years. In his
early twenties he was married to Miss Lou Gaines,
daughter of Aunt Eliza Gaines, of whom I shall
After his marriage, he purchased five acres of
land adjoining the Mount Zion lot, on which he
built a comfortable three room cottage. It was
here that he and his thrifty wife raised a large
and interesting family of seven daughters, all of
whom died young.
In his cottage he had his private study, in which
he prepared some very able sermons, and after
he thought he had his subjects well in hand, he
often went to a valley near his home, on Sulphur
Fork Creek, and delivered them, with the fine old
elms and sycamores his silent listeners.
His funeral orations were hard to beat, several
of which I had the pleasure of hearing. The first
being that of William Northington, the trusted
foreman for years on Miss Ellen Yates' farm.
William was highly esteemed as a colored citizen
of the community, and Miss Ellen sent out for
her white friends to attend his funeral. They
occupied seats on the back porch, while the
colored congregation sat under the shade of the
tall locust trees, and listened with rapt attention.
After taking his text, and making a few appro-
priate introductory remarks, he quoted effectively
from Longfellow's Psalm of Life:
"Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave."
William and Jack Northington were brothers,
owned by Mr. Henry Northington, one of the
pioneer settlers of Middle Tennessee.
Mr. Northington was a large slave owner, and
not needing William and Jack on his farm, he
kept them hired out.
After they were freed, they said, "We will go
back to the old home, and help take care of Mars
Henry the remainder of his days," and they did.
Mr. Northington died June, 1877, but they still
stayed on the old plantation, working as long as
they lived for Miss EUe'n Yates, Mr. Northington's
Two summers later, August, 1883, I heard him
preach the funeral of Aunt Lucy Parks North-
ington. For several years before her death, Aunt
Lucy had cooked for Mrs. Lawson Fort. She had
been a faithrul servant in the Dancy, Parks, and
Fort families all her life, originally belonging to
William E. Dancy, of Florence, Ala.
She was beloved by her white people, who ten-
derly cared for her during the last two years of
her life, in which she was unable to work. And
when the last sad rites were to be paid her remains,
her casket was placed on the front gallery of the
pretty Fort home; white friends sat in the parlor
and sitting room; the colored congregation occu-
pied seats leading from the steps to the front
gate. As Rev. Altheus Carr stood at the head
of the casket, and 'neath the shadows of the
imposing columns of that old colonial home, it
was a scene to touch the tendercst chord of a
Southern heart. On the casket was a wreath of
vSpider lillies, that grew in a valley near the cabin
home of the deceased, when she lived at the old
Parks homestead near Port Royal. Every sum-
mer, for years, she had admired that lily bed at
blooming time, and the writer remembered it.
He took for his text, "Well done good and
faithful servant," etc., and started out by saying:
"The nearness of this casket to the mansion door,
and the pure white liUies that shed their fragrance
over the heart that is forever still, attest the truth
of my text. Yes my hearers, this means some-
thing. It speaks appreciation of a life, whose
ending deserves more than a passing notice.
"Sister Lucy Parks Northington was sixty-one
years of age, and forty-one years of this long
span of life were spent in the Master's vineyard.
"She was a quiet worker, caring not for the
praise of the world, but striving always to perform
duties pleasing to the eye of Him who seeth in
"Too well I know, that my feeble words can do
but scant justice to the life of such a departed
sister, but I feel like we should hold high the light
of such lives, that others may follow their bright-
"My mother was often with Sister Lucy during
her last days; they sang and prayed together,
and she left every evidence that she was ready for
"Her last night on earth, she said to the friends
keeping watch, 'Sing to me, sing the good old
songs of Zion.' No doubt, but she, like the saints
of old, wanted music to charm her last on earth,
and greet her first in heaven.
"We shall miss her at the church she loved so
well, but she has left her light on its altars, and
if we would see her again, let us find her footprints,
and follow them. They have not been blotted
out. We will find them leading from her doorway
to those of affliction, to the church door, or wher-
ever her gentle spirit was needed.
"This quiet Summer's evening we will lay her
tired body to rest on the hillside overlooking Red
River; time for her is no more, but a home not
made with hands, is hers to enjoy, though an
The service was concluded with a song and
prayer, after which the orderly funeral procession
passed up the lane, and on down to the colored
graveyard, where so many of the Fort colored
people have been laid to rest.
There was a certain dignity and refinement
about Rev. Altheus Carr that was noticeable, and
which he manifested on occasions when white
people attended his services.
As for instance, at the large baptizings which
followed his successful revivals, when the good
singing was especially inspiring, several emotional
members of his church were in the habit of shout-
ing, and at times, they were noisy in their demon-
strations. When he realized that they had reached
a limit, he usually in an undertone, spoke some
kind word of admonition.
Often they understood a gesture from him, and
all would be quiet. He wielded a subtle influence
over his people that was rennarkable.
It is a fact worthy of mention, that only one
member was publicly known to rebel at the new
rules set up in Mount Zion church after his became
His father, during his nine years charge of the
church, had accepted for his services only what
the members saw fit to pay him. His idea being
that God did not intend for a price to be set on
the preaching of the Gospel.
Neither did he advocate, or allow, church sup-
pers as a means of raising funds for religious
But the world moves, and church conditions
forced his successors to adopt new methods.
Altheus being the first to follow his father, was
forced to have systematic means of raising church
money, by assessing the members according to
their supposed financial ability. Uncle Arter
Northington, a reasonably prosperous colored
tenant living on Mr. Felix Northington 's premises,
was assessed $2.00.
He thought it was too much, and appealed to
his employer, in whose sense of right and justice
he had great confidence. The latter told him he
thought fifty cents would be enough.
When the contribution box was handed round
on the next collection day, Uncle Arter dropped
in his fifty cents. After preaching was over,
Rev. Carr approached him privately, and quoted
appropriately from Paul regarding certain reli-
Uncle Arter was very black, very positive, and
talked through his nose. Straightening himself
up, he spoke defiantly, and said: "Brer Carr, I
keers nothin' ' tall 'bout what Paul said. Mars
Felix is smart enough for me ter go by, an he says
fifty cents is plenty fer me ter pay, an that's all
I'm gwine ter pay."
The incident was related at the village store,
and in a spirit of amusement some one exclaimed,
"Hurrah for Paul!" and from that time on, till
his death, twenty-five or thirty years afterwards.
Uncle Arter was known far and wide as "Paul."
"he had an ear that caught, and a memory
Uncle Horace was spending several days in
our neighborhood, filling a whitewashing contract.
Red River was past fording; he worked till late,
and did not wish to risk the ferry after dark, so
he "took time about," as he called it, staying
among the neighbors at night.
The night he spent on my father's premises, 1
went after supper to Aunt Lucy's house in the
back yard, and asked him to tell me of a corn
shucking before the war. He drew his chair up
near the door, and began as follows:
"I think about the biggest corn shucking I ever
went to was on Mr. Waters' farm, between Mr.
Billie Weatherford's and Mr. John Powers'. Mr.
Waters was a prosperous farmer, and a mighty
fine man with it.
"It was about the last of November, and the
com was piled high in a lot back of the house.
I would suppose there were about fifty hands
invited, white and colored. They went to work,
and they worked, too, I tell you.
"Old gray headed men were invited, not to
work, mind you, but to sit off to themselves and
talk over good old times.
"The night was cool, and frosty, and a log fire
was built for their benefit. What we called the
best men of the county were there. Mr. Hatcher,
Mr. Hiter, Mr. Wilcox, Mr. Thomas Shaw, Mr.
John Powers, and Mr. Patrick McGowan. I
remember Mr. McGowan and Mr. Shaw seemed
to be particular friends. They came together and
went away together.
Mr. McGowan owned a yellow man named"
John, and he could beat anybody there shucking
corn; he could also find more red ears than any-
body else, and would laugh the merriest laughs
when he found them, for a red ear meant an extra
dram, you know. Some of the hands accused
him of bringing along a few from Mr. McGowan 's
corn crib, but 1 hardly think that was true, for
when it came to honesty, John was as straight
as a shingle.
"Charles, Mr. Waters' wagoner, was the heap
walker that night. Always at corn shuckings
they picked out somebody with a clear, good
voice to sing, and made them the heap walker.
He walked over and around the com heap, and
sang the com song. Somehow, the hands seemed
to forget they worked, when they sang, the time
passed so pleasantly.
"Charles was what they called a quick witted
smart fellow, and he could fit into his songs some
of the funny sayings of the neighborhood, and
make the people laugh amazingly. He would
sing the verses alone, and the crowd would join
in the chorus. The com song went like this:
"Ginn erway de corn boys, ginn erway de com.
Done come here ternight, fer ter ginn erway de
Com, cor-n, cor-n, cor-n, com fer de
Bell cow, com fer de mule.
Ash cake fer de yaller gal,
Dat make you all er fool.
Corn, corn, com, dear old Marser's corn.'
"Then the chorus went:
'Cor-n, cor-n, ginn erway de corn,
Gwine ter shuck it all dis night,
As sho's yer bor-n, bor-n.'
"And bless your life, they were happy times,
those good old corn shucking days before the
war! Along about midnight, they changed up
from the corn song to the dram song, and when
that started up, the boys worked like steam
Engines. As well as I can remember, here's the
way the dram song went :
'Dram, dram, little drop er dram sir,
Dram, dram, fetch erlong de dram.
Come, come, little Mister Whiskey,
Nigger mighty thirsty, wants er little dram.'
"When the corn pile was finished up, Mr. Waters
took off his hat, made a polite bow, and thanked
the hands for their good work.
"Then he said: 'I'll give you something to warm
up your throats,' and hands the big jug around;
but he had good judgment, and would not give
them enough to make them drunk. When the
last one had taken his dram, John McGowan, that
same active yellow man, and one of the Sale
colored boys, caught Mr. Waters up on their
shoulders, and away they went to the house with
him, the hands following behind, singing thecorn
song. They set him down on the front door
Mrs. Waters was out in the hall, and said she
had not laughed as much sidce Christmas. We
were invited out to the big log kitchen, and there
on a long table was spread the feast of all feasts.
Boiled ham, barbecued shoat, sweet potatoes,
coffee, pumpkin pies, ginger cakes, and cider; and
when the supper was over, the young folks Ht in
to dancing. I didn't care for dancing myself,
so I sat around and talked to the sober-minded
"It was an old saying, that day must never
break on a corn shucking feast, or bad luck would
fall on the next one. So before we broke up, the
boys took Mr. Waters on their shoulders three
times around the house, to the music of a good
bye song. Just now I can't exactly remember
how that went, but it was a pretty tune.
"When we scattered out, each one going to
his home, some up the road, down the road, and
across the fields, the frosty night air rang with
'Run, nigger run, patroler'l ketch you,' etc.
"Of course I went to many other corn shucking
frolics, but this one was the biggest I ever attended,
not only this, but they had the best order I ever
"Well I've told you about a corn shucking
before the war, and the next time I come back
I'll tell you of when the stars fell."
"Tell me now," I said, "something may happen
that you will not come again soon; its not late,
and you will have time to tell part of it any
He looked serious and said, "Well I was not
to say sheered, but it was certainly a solemn
time! I was twenty-one years old when it hap-
pened, and was sleeping up stairs in a cabin on
Miss Nancy Carr's farm. A pitiful noise waked
me, and I bounced up and run down, and the
wood-pile in front of the cabin door was full of
"I said, 'signs and wonders in the heavens"
"Mr. Bob Bellamy, from Kentucky, was work-
ing at Miss Nancy's, and he seemed to think it
was funny, the way the colored people prayed
and shouted, thinking judgment day was at hand.
We could hear them praying at Mr. Riah Grant's
home, as plain as if they were in our yard.
"Brother Martin Grant was a colored preacher,
and a mighty good man; he tried to reason with
them, and told them they were in the hands of
the Lord, and He would deal right with them.
"The white folks did not seem to be much
excited. The very religious ones prayed in secret,
but they made no great noise ; the excitement was
mostly among the colored people, and the ignorant
"After daybreak, and it began to get light, the
stars on the ground grew dim, and got dimmer,
and dimmer, till the sun came up and they could
not be seen at all. An old Colored man living
down on the Clarksville road rejoiced when he
saw the sun rise, and said, 'Thank God, I know
the world is all right now, for the sun is rising in
the same place!'
"1 think Brother Robin Northington (at that
time a young man belonging to Mr. David North-
ington) made more noise than any colored person
in the neighborhood. In his young days he was
inclined to be wild, and when he thought judgment
day had found him unprepared, it was time to
make a noise.
"It always seemed strange to me that Brother
Robin was so late coming into the church. He
was eighty odd, when he joined Mount Zion
* * * * * * *
The writer witnessed Uncle Robin's baptism
in Sulphur Fork Creek, near Mount Zion Church;
there were eighty candidates for baptism, and
Uncle Horace had his son Altheus to perform
the sacred rite.
On account of Uncle Robin's advanced age,
and a very remarkable experience he had related
the day he joined the church, he seemed to be
a central figure of the occasion, and all eyes were
turned on him, as he stood trembling at the
water's edge, pleading, "Now Brer Carr, be per-
ticular, and dont you droun me!"
"Be quiet Brother Northington," he said in his
characteristic dignified tone, "by the help of the
Lord I will take you safely through; Brother
Edwards and Brother Baldry are here to assist
me and you need not fear."
It was soon over, and his nervousness gave
place to rejoicing. I don't think I ever heard
sweeter singing than went up from hundreds of
colored worshippers on the hillsides surrounding
Mount Zion Church, that lovely Sabbath morning,
ITS A GRAND THING TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT
OF THE LIFE GOD HATH GIVEN US, BUT IT IS GRANDER
STILL, TO REACH THE GREAT END OVER GREAT
James William Carr, the twelfth, and next to
the youngest child of Uncle Horace, and Aunt
Kitty, attained distinction both as a lecturer and
A Tennessean by birth, and a Georgian by
Providence, he died in the midst of his usefulness
at Savannah, Ga., August 25, 1907.
In his youth, he professed religion and joined
Mount Zion during his father's pastorate of the
church. His early educational advantages were
poor, but he was ambitious, and lost no opportun-
ity for mental improvement.
Rev. William Carr was tall, and bright colored,
having his mother's refined features, and his
father's good physique.
A blend of both parents in looks, and Christian
That he was appreciative, the following letter
received by the writer, a short time before his
death, will show:
Savannah, Ga., May 13, 1907.
"Mrs. /. F. Miller — Kind Friend: Today my
thoughts go back to the scenes of my boyhood,
away back in the 70's, when I worked for your
father. How well do I remember the day he
hired me, and carried me home behind him, on a
big sorrel horse he called Charlie.
"I had never lived with white people, and
Mother Kitty did not think I would be satisfied,
but I was, and stayed several months, going home
every Saturday evening.
"I date my start in life to the study table in
your father's family room at night, around which
I was not only permitted the use of books, but
was also instructed in them.
"One' day I ventured to ask you to set me some
copies, in a rude copy book I had pinned together
of foolscap paper. You asked if I wanted words,
or sentences. I was embarrassed, for I did not
know the difference, and you set both.
"I feel profoundly grateful to you, and your
family, for the interest manifested in the little
yellow boy from near Horse Shoe Bend.
"I have traveled from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, and from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of
Rev. John William Carr, Savannah, Ga.
Mexico, and I have been treated with respec*
wherever I have gone.
"I am at present pastor of the First African
Baptist Church of Savannah. It was organized
in 1788. The membership is 5,000, and the value
of the church property, $100,000.00. This church
has had only six pastors during its existence of
119 years; I am its sixth.
"The race riot in Atlanta a few months ago,
has in no way changed my opinion of the South,
as being the proper home of the negro.
"I am glad you visited my mother, and took
down in writing some interesting incidents of her
"My parents were unlettered it is true, for
their sphere was limited, but our Heavenly
Father can be glorified in little things as well as
"It matters not how small the deed of kindness
done, it is the motive that dignifies the action.
"Providence permitting, I hope to visit Port
Royal next fall, and meet once more in the flesh
my friends and kindred there. If I come I will
preach a sermon or two at Mount Zion. It is a
dear old church to me, and the quiet spot near
by, in which sleeps the dust of my father and
two brothers, is dearer still.
"May God's richest blessings rest on your
household, is the prayer of,
Your obedient servant,
J. W. Carr.
In three months after the above letter was
written, Rev. William Carr was stricken with
fever and died. The news of his death was tele-
graphed to his only surviving brother, Horace
Carr, of District No. 1, Montgomery county, Tenn.
Immediately following this, memorial services
were held in several Middle Tennessee and South-
ern Kentucky churches in which he had preached
before making Savannah his home.
Deceased was twice married. His second wife
and several children survive him.
Apropos of Rev. William Carr's reference to
the First African Baptist Church at Savannah,
I quote the following from an article in the In-
fonrer, written by Wm. L. Craft (col.), Field
Secretary of the National B. Y. P. U. Board,
"The colored Baptists of the United States
have cause to feel proud of the results of their
distinctive organic church work within the past
And to the State of Georgia we owe it, to call
her the Mother State of negro organic church
"It was in Savannah, January 20, 1788, that
the first negro Baptist church was organized by
Rev. Andrew Bryan, and numerous other slaves
converted under his earnest preaching.
"Rev. Bryan was converted under the preaching
of Rev. George Leile, and baptized, 1783, in the
Savannah River. At the close of the Civil War,
1865, there were 400,000 negro Baptists in the
"Today they are estimated at 3,000,000, and
well organized. The National Colored Baptist
Convention was organized at Montgomery, Ala.,
in 1880, and shows 89 State Conventions; 559
Associations; 18,214 churches; 17,217 ordained
ministers; 15,625 Sunday Schools; 73,172 officers
and teachers-; 788,016 pupils.
"The officers of this National Convention are
as follows: Rev. E. C. Morris, D. D., Helena, Ark.,
President; Prof. R. B. Hudson, A. M., Selma,
Ala., Recording Secretary; Rev. A. J. Stokes,
D. D., Montgomery, Ala., Treasurer; Rev. Robert
Mitchell, A. M., D. D., Bowling Green, Ky.,
Auditor; Rev. S. W. Bacote, D. D., Statistician.
"The work of this great body is conducted by
National Boards, under the management of Cor-
"The denominational organ speaking for this
Convention, is The National Baptist Union, pub-
lished weekly at Nashville, Tenn. E. W. D.
Isaac, D. D., is editor, and said to be one of the
ablest in the United States."
It was in a speech made on Georgia soil, that
first gave Booker T. Washington the eye and ear
of the Nation, when he said, "It is worth far
more to the negro to have the privilege of making
an honest dollar side by side with the white man,
than it is to have the privilege of spending that
dollar sitting by him in a theatre." It is this
wholesome doctrine that has given him the right
influence among right thinking people of both
When Booker Washington left Hampton Insti-
tute, Virginia, that great school for the practical
training of the negro, he began his life work at a
country cross roads, near Tuskegee, Alabama. It
proved a good stopping place for that young and
penniless, but cultured son of Hampton Institute.
As an educator and civic builder, he is known
and honored wherever the forces of Christian
civilization recount their worthies, and crown
their heroes. It is a remarkable record, that in
all his utterances, on both sides of the sea, Booker
Washington has never been known to say a
foolish or intemperate thing.
speaking further of Georgia, it is asserted on
good authority that the negroes of this State
pay taxes on something over $18,000,000 worth
of property. It is property at last, that is the
test of civilized citizenship, especially in a land
where good men may readilv attain it.
With whiskey out of the reach of a race having
a lamentable weakness for it. it is highly p)robable
that these figures will be greatly increased within
the next decade. The truth is gradually becom-
ing known to the world, that the South is giving
to the negro the only square deal a white race
ever gave to one of another color, living among
them under tiie same laws.
Through the refining influence of the holy
teachings of the Man of Galilee, the Southern
white man is harmonizing with his "Brothers in
Black." to a degree that he is spending three
hundred million dollars in their education; not
only this, but he is supplying them with wealth
accunmlating work, and allowing them to enjoy
the rights of peaceable citizenship. That they
duly appreciate all this, is daily expressed in the
right living of the best elenient of our colored
THE ONLY PERMANENT BASIS OF SPIRITTTAL
LIFE IS THE BROTHERHOOD OF SOULS."
In the preparation of this Httle book, it has
been my earnest desire to secure my information
from reliable sources, and so far, I think I have
succeeded in doing so.
After writing the preceding chapters, it occurred
to me that I would like to read them to some
member of the Carr family, before giving them
to the public. So Rev. Luke Fort, of Guthrie,
Ky., came to my home. May 13, 1911, and spent
a good portion of the day.
Rev. Fort, in antebellum times, belonged to
Mr. Lawson Fort, He is sixty-four years of age,
and the most of his useful life was spent on the
Fort plantation. He was married during the 70 's
to Annie, youngest daughter of Uncle Horace and
Aunt Kitty Carr.
Rev. Fort not only endorsed as correct what
had already been written, but he gave me addi-
tional information that I consider both valuable
and interesting. He spoke in part as fol-
"When I first heard that you wished to talk
to nie of a family I loved so well, I was afraid I
could be of but little assistance to you, but after
hearing you read what had already lieen written
mv nund was awakened, and the old scenes came
back to me.
"I was the son- m -law of these dear old people
nineteen years, and twelve years of that time,
(after Father Horace's death) Mother Kitty lived
"It was while I was a tenant on Mr. W. D.
Fort's farm. After the day's work was done, we
used to gather around the fireside in winter, or
on the front porch in Summer, and listen to her
talk. Everybody liked to hear her talk. But
after she broke up housekeeping and had no
cares, if possible, she seemed more interesthig
than at any period of her life. My regret is, that
I did not take more note of what she said.
"Her theme was religion, for she was an every
day Christian. Inuring her widowhood, she went
to live awhile with her son, William, who was at
that time living at Indianapolis Indiana, but-
she was not satisfied, and soon returned to Ten-
nessee. At her advanced age, she could not get
tised to the great difference between town and
country life. "
From Aunt Kitty we turned to Uncle Horace,
and Rev. Fort continued:
"Father Horace had his own peculiar style of
preaching, and often his sermons would be made
up entirely of some good religious experience he
had especially enjoyed.
"He was partial to the Gospel of John, and the
best sermon I ever heard him preach was from
the 15th chapter and 1st verse, 'I am the true
vine, and my Father is the husbandman.' Feeling
the infirmities of old age coming on, and knowing
that Altheus had chosen the ministry, he often
put him to the front in the pulpit, while he sat
back, in his humble way, and directed the service.
While sitting beneath the sound of his voice, in
Scriptural language he doubtless thought to him-
self, 'This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.'
He seemed to be getting ready for Altheus to step
into his shoes, and carry ori the good work he had
begun. The foundation had been laid."
Rev. Fort then paid fine tribute to the memories
of his white people, Mr. Lawson Fort, and his
pious v.'ife. To the latter he said he owed his
first religious impressions. When a mere boy
waiting about the house, she talked to him of
salvation in a way that he understood, and he
Rev. Luke Fort, Guthrie, Ky.
was led to tnist his Savior at an early as^e. And
after he was a middle aged man, she often invited
him to attend devotional exercises in the seclusion
of her family room ; on one accasion she requested
him to lead in prayer, which he did.
Never having heard of the colored meetings
held on the Fort plantation before the war, only
in a general way, I asked Rev. Luke Fort if he
remembered one, and he said he did, very dis-
tinctly. It was during the middle 50 's when he
was about seven years old. It was Saturday
night, and the first time he ever hcvard Uncle
The service was held in what they called Aunt
Margaret's house, a large, comfortable log room,
with a shed at one end, and an upstairs. There
were two doors in the main room, opposite each
other, and facing east and west. Along between
ten and eleven, o'clock the meeting reached its
most enjoyable stage. The good old time songs
were rr-aking their souls happy. Uncle Horace
led the songs, and his face wore that placid look
that seemed to speak that no wave of trouble
would ever roll across his peaceful breast," when
a rap was heard at the front door, and before
they had time to think, in rushed a band of
As they came in at the east door, the confused
congregation made hastv exit from the west door.
The news was quickly conveyed to the kind
old master, who sent his son, the late Sugg Fort,
to the scene of excitement. Young Mr. Fort
approached the patrolers in a very dignified
manner; and informed them that his father had
sent him to tell them that their services were not
needed on his premises. It was before the countv
line had been changed, Mr. Fort's residence was
then in Montgomery county, instead of Robertson,
its present location, and the patrolers were from
(For the benefit of a younger generation of
readers, I will state that patrolers were organized
bands of white men, appointed in each neighbor-
hood, for the piu-pose of going about at night and
keeping order among a doubtful element of colored
people who left home without passes, or written
permission from their owners. The unfortunate
condition of affairs demanded it, and still more
unfortunate was it, that the appointment, or
office, too often fell into cruel and inhuman
There lived at Port Royal, a fine looking colored
man by the name of Dean Dancy, the property
of the late John A. Dancy. It so happened that
Dean was masquerading this particular Saturday
night without a pass, and unhickily fell into the
hands of the patrolers. Knowing they would
deal roughly w4th him under such circumstances,
he compromised the matter by telling them, if
they'd let him off jtist this one time, he'd pilot
them to a negro meeting, where they could find
a housefull of people without passes, and this was
why Uncle Horace's meeting was so disturbed.
Monday morning Mr. Fort ordered his saddle
horse brought out unusually early; he rode over
to Port Ropal and informed Mr. Dancy of what
his boy Dean had done, and the trickster had to
make some pretty fair promises to escape punish-
On the same night that Dean Dancy led the
patrolers to molest the quiet worshipers on Mr.
Fort's plantation, an amusing scene was enacted
in a dry goods store at Port Royal. It was during
the late fall, and several of the village clerks had
put up a notice that they would pay liberally
for a fat, well cooked o'possum, delivered at
Dancy and Kirby's store. Joe Gaines, a tall
brown skinned man belonging to W. N. Gaines,
gleaned the persimmon trees round about the
Gaines premises, and failing to find an o'possum,
conceived the idea of substituting a fat house-cat.
After it was nicely cooked, he stepped out by the
light of the moon, with his pass in his pocket, and
hope in his heart of bringing back a silver dollar.
The clerks from the other business houses
assembled at Dancy and Kirby's, where a spread
was set for eight o possum eaters. Dr. J. T.
Darden a young physician from Tumersville,
had a short time before located at Port Royal,
and was invited to the feast. When the dish
containing the supposed delectable marsupial was
uncovered, it was observed that the young physi-
cian began to view it with a suspicious eye. He
called Mr. T. M. Kirby to one side and told him
the carcass was not that of an o 'possum and they
must not eat it. Upon closer examination it was
very plain that it was a cat.
Without a word, Mr. Dancy walked to the front
door and turned the key, locking them in ; a pistol
was placed on the table, and Joe was informed
that he must devour that cat, or suffer the aon-
It required the effort of his life, but he choked
it down. If Dean and Joe ever had good inten-
tions, Satan certainly run rough shod over them
all that Saturday night.
Along with the progress of colored churches
within the past four decades, that of orders, and
societies is worthy of mention.
Within a short distance of each other, they
have, near Port Royal, both Odd Fellows and
Benevolent Society halls. Of the latter society
I shall speak more in detail, from the fact that
it is much older as an organization, in this com-
munity, and has done so much for its membefs.
It was organized, October, 1872, in a little log
school room, on what was called Sugar Camp
Branch, on Miss Ellen Yates' farm.
Dennis Neblett, a good colored man of that
vicinity, was the ])rime mover in the enterprise,
and called to his assistance in its organization
Granville Wilcox and Henry Roberts (col.), of
They organized with thirty charter members,
and Dennis Neblett was elected President, which
office he faithfully filled for thirty-seven years.
This feeble but faithful little band met three
years in Sugar Camp Branch school room, after
which the house was moved farther down the
creek, on Mr. Henry Rosson's farm. Being too
remote from the majority of its members, they
lost interest and failed to attend the meetings as
they had formerly done, so the officers adopted
the plan of meeting in the homes of the members,
and occasionally at the churches.
The change awakened renewed interest, and
from that tim.e on, it gradually increased from,
thirty members to something near one hundred
and fiftv. Tts noble mission is to assist the
disabled, nurse the sick, and bitry the dead.
In the early 90 's they bought a lot on the prin-
cipal street of Port Royal, on which they erected
a very modest little hall They were fortunate
in making this investment at that date, as the
remainder of their treasury, $200.00 (two hundred)
deposited in a Clarksville bank, was lost during
the failure of several banks at that time in Clarks-
ville. After meeting at Poit Roval lodge a num-
ber of years, they decided to purchase a more
suitable location. The old Carr home near Port
Royal had been dismantled, and the land was
bought bv Mr. Joshua Ford, a prosperous farmer
of District No. 5, Montgomery county. Mr. Ford
disposed of his purchase in lots, Jerry Fort (col.)
being the first purchaser of five acres, on which
he built a comfortable little home.
Jerry and Harry Grant, as Trustees for the
Benevolent Society, were appointed to purchase
three acres of the same tract, adjoining his, for
a burying groimd, and also a parade ground for
the society. The purchase was made, but after-
ward sold for residence lots, now owned and
occupied by Jane Davis. Lecie Hollins and George
A large tobacco bam on the opposite side of the
road, fronting the Fort home, had been used for
several years as a shelter for the society when the
members gave barbecues and other out-door
festivities. This bam including one-quarter of
an acre, was bought by the Trustees, the building
sold to Sim Polk Tcol.) and moved to his farm
on Parson's Creek, and a nice Hall, Benevolent
Treasure No. 7, erected on the site, at a cost of
something less than a thousand dollars. This
building speaks well for its enterprising members,
and is an ornament to the roadside.
Added to the membership, is a juvenile branch
of the order, consisting of about fifty polite bovs
and girls, ranging from four to sixteen years of age.
In its first organization, 1872, this society was
known as Benevolent Society No. 3, but a few
vears ago changed conditions made it necessary
to reorganize, after which it was called Benevolent
Treasure No. 7. Its present officers are as fol-
Sim Polk, President.
John Person, Vice-President.
George Watson, Recording Secretary.
Waymond Polk, Assistant Secretary.
Harry Grant, Treasurer.
Willis Northington, Chaplain.
Weight Watkins, Lizzie Dortch, Chairmen of
Demps Trabue, Chairman Executive Committee.
The meetings are held semi-monthly.
RECOLLECTION IS THP; ONLY PARADISE FROM
WHICH WE CANNOT BE TURNED OUT."
To the aged, it is a delightful refuge. I found
this especially true in the case of Aunt Gaines
Williams, whom I visited May 10, 1911.
She ^^as living with her youngest daughter,
Mrs. Sarah Northington, on Esq. James H. Achey's
farm. Not until I began, several years ago, to
interview these faithful old colored representatives
of antebellum times, did I know how their minds
were stored with rich recollections.
T was anxious to talk with Aunt Eliza, because
she had been in touch with the Carr family all
her life, and her daughter had been the wife of
the late Rev. Altheus Carr.
Aunt Eliza was born in 1828. as the property
of Major James Norfleet, a prominent citizen of
Robertson county, who owned large possessions
on Sulphur Fork Creek; his homestead site being
now owned by Greer Brothers, a mile or two
Aunt Eliza Gaines W44HfHns. Mother of five
generations of her family.
son; their oldest daughter, Margaret, married Gabe
Washington, and their daughter, Amanda, has
grand-children. While 1 was talking about my
white folks. I forgot to tell you they were kin to
the 'big folks,' the Bakers, the Dortch's, and
Governor Blount. These three families lived out
on Parson's Creek, and Major Baker gave the
land on his place for that great camp ground,
called Baker's Camp Ground. Lor, the good old
times the people used to have at the Baker's
camp meetings. You could hear them shouting
for miles! The little church wasn't much larger
than a family room, but they had tents all along
the creek bottom near the big Baker spring, and
held the meetings two or three weeks at a time.
Brother Horace Carr enjoyed these camp meet-
ings; I've heard him tell of some of the big ser-
mons old Dr. Hanner, Dr. West, and others used
to preach there, but somehow he was partial to
Red River Church, above all the rest. It was
through his influence that I, and a host of others
joined Red River, and then when we were freed,
and the Lord blessed us with a church of our
own, we followed him to Mount Zion.
"If everybody that Brother Horace influenced
to be Christians here on earth are with him in
heaven today, he has a glorious throng around
him. I will never forget the last time I saw
southeast of Port Royal. At her birth, Major
Norfleet gave her to his daughter Louisa, who
named her for a favorite schoolmate, Mary Eliza
Wheatley, but for short they always called her
Eliza. Her mind seemed to d^^e\\ first, on her
white people, of whom she spoke as follows:
"Mv young Mistress, Miss Louisa Norfleet,
married Mr. Abraham Gaines, Mr. Billie Gaines'
father, and lived where Mr. Ed. Bourne now
lives, in the village of Port Royal. When Mr.
Billie Gaines was a few months old his mother
went to Mr. Sam Northington's to spend a few
days, and while she was there she ate something
that disagreed with her, and died suddenly from
congestion of the stomach.
"I had a baby child nearly the same age of
hers, and I nursed them both at my own breast.
That has been sixty odd years ago, but I grieve
for her till yet, for she was good to me. I'm
trying to be ready to meet her. Mr. Billie Gaines
does not forget me; he comes to see me, and sends
me a present now and then, and so does Mr.
"I was the mother of fourteen cliildren by my
first husband, Wiley Gaines, and there is some-
thing in mv family that very few people live to
see, the fifth generation. My oldest daughter,
Annie, married Henry Fort, Sister Margaret Fort's
him. I heard he was sick, and I went over and
carried him a lunch basket of nice things to eat.
The weather was warm, and he was able to bring
his chair out and sit in his yard. He had dropsy
and did not live very long after that. He talked
of heaven most of the time; he would clap his
hands and say:
'I'm nearing my Father's house,
Where many mansions be,
Nearer the great white throne.
My people are waiting for me.'
"I used to go to Brother Horace's prayer meet-
ings that he held aroimd at night in homes that
permitted him, and one night he called on me to
pray in public. I was confused, and did not say
but a few words, but he told me that a few from
the heart were worth ten thousand from the
tongue. When I told him good bye, the last visit
I made him, he held my hand a long time, and
pointed toward heaven and said, 'In the name
of our Lord, we must set up our banner. Set it
high, and never look down.' "
After the first talk with Aunt Eliza, I made a
second visit, the same week, for the purpose of
taking her picture, but after reaching her home
ajrain storm came on suddenly, and we could not
get the sunlight necessary to picture making. She
had peen advised by telephone that we would be
there, and was nicely dressed for the occasion.
Strange to say, she was eighty-two years old, and
had never had a picture taken.
We succeeded next day however, in securing
a very good one.
On my second visit to her she met me at the
door in her characteristic pleasant manner and said :
"I've been studying a heap about what you
said and read to me the other evening when you
were here, and I told my daughter that I believed
the Lord had directed you to write this history
of my people, and their early struggles. If some-
body does not take it up, the old heads will all
soon be gone, and there will be nobody left to tell
Among the older members of Mount Zion
Church who have aided me materially in securing
facts concerning its early history, I would mention
Dan and Jerry Fort. While neither of them were
charter members, they have been prominently
identified with the church for many years. They
have seen it rise from the little box house, with
its seventy unlettered members of forty-three
years ago, to a reasonably well educated mem-
bership of something over three hundred.
Crude and humble as that first church building
was, I have heard it said that Uncle Horace on
preaching days would pause on the hillside before
entering, and praise God for the privileges he
enjoyed. It seemed that a new heart was in his
bosom and a new song was on his lips. He loved
the little house of worship as though it had been
handed down to him as a present, direct from
Uncle Horace was instrumental in organizing
two other churches besides Mount Zion, Antioch,
near Turners ville, in Robertson county, and
Nevil's Chapel, near Rudolphtown, in Montgom-
ery. Along with prominent mention of the great
Christian leader of his people, I must not omit
due tribute to some of his followers; principal
among whom was Uncle John McGowan, a member
of Mount Zion Church forty-two years, and all
the time leading a life worthy of emulation.
Uncle John was born on what was known as
the George Wimberly place near Ross view, in
Montgomery county, in 1822. He was the prop-
erty of Miss Katherine Wimberly, who married
Mr. Milton Bourne, brother of the late Mr. William
Bourne, of Port Royal, Tenn. Mr. Milton Bourne
owned and settled the present homestead site
of Mr. John Gower, of Port Royal. After living
happily there for a number of years, he became
financially embarrassed, and was forced to sell
some of his most valuable slaves. Among them,
in young manhood's prime, was Uncle John, who,
in no spirit of bitterness, often referred to his
sale as follows: "A large block, or box, was placed
in the front yard for us to stand on, that the
bidders might get a good look at us. The bid
opened lively when I was put up, for I was con-
sidered a pretty likely man, as the saying went.
When the bidding went way up into several
hundred dollars, I was knocked, ofif to Mr. Lawson
Fort. I was glad of that, for I had lived near
him and knew him to be a good man. I hadn't
long settled my mind down on having a good
home the balance of my life, when up comes
somebody and told me Mr. Fort didn't buy me,
he was -just bidding for Mr. Patrick McGowan.
'My feathers fell,' as the saying is, for I didn't
know how me and an Irishman I didn't know
anything about were going to get along together.
But it so happened that we got along fine; while
his ways were a little different from what I had
been used to with Mr. Bourne and the Wimberleys,
I soon found him to be a man that would treat
you right if you deserved it. He had his own
curious way of farming, and no matter what price
was paid for tobacco, he would not let a plant
grow on his place. He had a very good little
farm joining the Royster place, and raised more
potatoes than anybody in that whole country.
"I have heard him tell often of letting Elder
Reuben Ross, the great Baptist preacher that
came to this country from North Carolina over
a hundred years ago, live in a cabin in his yard
till he could arrange to get a better home. Elder
Ross had a large family, and Mr. McGowan took
some of them in his own house. He was kind
to strangers, and never turned the needy from
"I must tell you of a whipping I got while I
belonged to Mr. Milton Bourne, that I did not
deserve, and if I had the time to go over again, I
would whip the negro who caused me to get it.
There was a still house on Red River, not far
from Mr. Sugg Fort's mill, it was long before Mr.
Fort owned the mill; Mr. Joe Wimberly owned
and operated the stillhouse. In that day and
time, the best people of the land made whiskey;
it was pure, honest whiskey, and did not make
those who drank it do mean things, like the
whiskey of today. Mr. Bourne had hired me to
Mr. Wimberly to work in the still house, with a
lot of other boys, about my age — along about
nineteen and twenty years old. We were a
lively set of youngsters, and laid a plan to steal
a widow woman's chickens one night and
have a chicken fry. We took a solemn pledge
just before we started, that we would never "tell
on each other, if the old lady suspicioned us.
Well we stole them, and one of the boys, Bob
Herndon, who had been raised to help his mamm}^
about the kitchen, was a pretty good cook, and
he fried them. I think it was the best fried
chicken I ever put in my mouth. A day or two
went by, the still house shut down, and they put
me to work in the field. Corn was knee high, I
was chopping out bushes in a field near the river,
when I saw Mr. Wimberly's overseer come stepping
down the turn row lii<e he was mad as a hornet.
I knew him so well, I could tell when he was
mad, as far as I could see him. My heart began
to beat pretty fast, as he asked about the chickens.
I told him I did not know a thing, about them,
but when he began to tell things that really took
place, I knew some one had given us away. He
got out his rope and tied me to a hickory sapling,
and said: 'Now John, I'm going to give you a
little dressing off for this, Bob Herndon has let
the cat out of the wallet; of course he is the
biggest rascal of the gang.' Every now and then
he'd stop, and ask me if I was ready to own up,
but he soon found I was not, and turned me
loose to chopping bushes out of the corn again.
About twenty years after that, I met that same
I'ncle John McGowan, the great Broom Maker.
overseer at the mill one rainy day; he was older,
and I reckon his heart had softened, and we
laughed and talked over that chicken fry, and
what it cost me. It was the first and last dis-
honorable scrape I ever got into."
Uncle John was twice married, and the father
of several highly respected sons, and daughters,
several of whom still survive him. His second
son by his first marriage, Rev. Burnett McGowan,
is a Baptist minister of some prominence, and
owns a nice little home near Adams, Tennessee.
Uncle John was an expert broom maker, and
during the last twenty years of his life he made
a circuit of certain sections of Robertson and
Montgomery counties about three times a year,
delivering his brooms to his old customers, who
would use no other make but "The John McGowan
brand." They were honest brooms, and lasted
twice as long as the factory made ones. He had
a business way of distributing broom corn seed
among his customers at planting time, and after
the corn was harvested, he would follow the
crops, and make up the brooms on the shares.
He was so polite and pleasant that his friends,
both white and colored, made him welcome in
their homes free of charge, a week or ten days at
a time during the broom making season. He was
a fine judge of human nature, and often discussed
in a very original manner the characteristics of
the famiHes with whom he stayed. After a short
illness from the infirmities of old age, he died at
the home of his son, Rev. Burnett McGowan,
August, 1910. He was laid to rest at the old
E. L. Fort homestead, with impressive ceremonies
by Benevolent Treasure Lodge No. 7, of which
he had long been an honored member.
"to live in hearts we leave behind, is not
Before pronouncing the benediction in this
pleasant meeting with old familiar faces, I must
not fail to say more of the kind old master who
was as respectful to his dusky body servant as
to his proudest peer, and who could penetrate
color, poverty, and untutored speech, and find
where a true heart lodged. Eppa Lawson Fort
was bom at "Riverside," a picturesque homestead
on Red River, three miles southeast of Port Royal,
Tennessee, August, 1802. He was the son of a
prominent Baptist minister, and a church goer,
but strange to say, during a pilgrimage of nearly
ninety years, never joined a church. He believed
implicitly in God's mercy, and when approached
by friends, on the subject of religion, he would
assure them that the Lord would manifest Himself
to him in a way that he would understand, when
He was ready for him to enter the Christian fold.
Mr. Fort was twice married, the first time to
Miss Virginia Metcalfe, of Robertson county, and
the second to Miss EHzabeth Dancy, of Florence,
Alabama. Three sons blessed his first marriage,
and a son and daughter his last, all of whom are
dead. For the benefit of those oi my readers
who knew Mr. Fort and his last wife, I give below
a brief sketch of family history :
The Forts, Dancys and Wimberlys were related,
and came from North Carolina to Tennessee at
an early date. The first Fort family settled on
Sulphur Fork Creek, near Beech Valley Mill, at
a place now owned by Mr. Plummer Poole. The
Wimberlys went nearer Clarksville, on Red River,
and their first homestead is now occupied by their
descendants, Messrs. Joe and Alf Killebrew, of
Rossview neighborhood. Esq. William E. Dancy
located near Dunbar's Cave, but later moved to
Florence, Alabama, carrying with him a number
of valuable slaves, and a family consisting of his
wife and three small children, Caroline, Elizabeth
and John. It was before the day of railroads, and
all the visiting between the Tennessee and Alabama
relatives was done on horseback, covering a
period of several days' journey. During the 30 's
little Caroline and Elizabeth had grown to young
ladyhood and accompanied by a younger brother,
they came to visit the Wimberlys. They found
Mr. Fort a gay yoiing widower, and he found
Miss Elizabeth Dancy a charming young lady.
A few months prior to this, he had paid his
addresses to a popular young lady of Port Royal,
and they were engaged, but by dint of accident
he learned from a reliable source that she had
said publicly that she did not intend to be bothered
with his three little boys, so he frankly informed
her that his children were first, and released her.
After spending several weeks in Tennessee, as
the time had come for the Dancy girls to rettirn
to Alabama, Mr. Fort asked the privilege of
escorting them, by saying he had not seen "Cousin
Nancy," their mother, in a long time, and that
she was his favorite relative. The old folks saw
clearly through it all, and were pleased, and after
a two weeks' visit Mr. Fort returned home, with
the prospect of being their son-in-law some time
during the coming year.
h. The three sweet little motherless boys, Jack,
Ilai and Sugg, in the meantime were being ten-
derly cared for by their mother's relatives. A
year sped quickly by; a black broadcloth wedding
suit was packed in a pair of leather saddle bags,
and mounted on a handsome dajjpled gray horse,
Mr. Fort set his face southward, with bright
anticipations. A letter had preceded him, telling
them what day to expect him; it was before the
time of sewing machines, and the bridesmaids,
Hannah and Lute Barton, had been in the Dancy
home several days making the wedding dresses;
they and the bride were to be dressed aUke, in
white mushn, flounced to the waist, and flounces
bound with white satin ribbon. Esq. Dancy
Hved on what was known as "The Mihtary Road,"
cut out by Andrew Jackson during the Creek
War, and horsemen could be seen a long way ofl.
Toward sunset a member of the family looked
up the road and exclaimed, "Yonder comes the
Tennessee widower!" and they all ran out to meet
him. He set his saddle bags in the hall, and
incidentally mentioned their contents, whereupon
the bride elect took out the broadcloth suit and
neatly folded it away in a bureau drawer in her
room. In those days there were no trunks, but
few spare rooms, and no foolish conventionalities.
Along with the clothes was a fine pair of No. 5
pump sole shoes, to be worn on the wedding
occasion. Mr. Fort had a small, shapely foot,
and it was said the young ladies in the Dancy
home, assisting the bride in her preparation for
the wedding, would go every now and then and
peep admiringly at those dainty pumps in the
Mr. Dancy made his daughter a bridal present
of a nice black saddle horse, called "Indian," and
when they turned their faces toward Tennessee,
mounted on this black and white steeds, it must
have been an interesting picture. Seventy odd
years ago, think of the changes!
For her travehng suit, the bride wore a purple
marino riding habit, made with long pointed
tight waist, with hooks and eyes beneath the
waist line imderneath, by which it could be
temporarily shortened and converted into a walk-
ing suit, thereby saving her the trouble of dressing
when they took lodging at the wayside inns or
taverns, as they were called. (It will be remem-
bered that a bridal wardrobe folded in saddle
pockets afforded but few dresses for change.) A
shaker straw bonnet, with a green berege frill, or
skirt, completed her outfit.
The headpiece of these Shaker bonnets, or
"scoops," as they were called, were shaped some-
thing like the cover of an emigrant's wagon, and
were anything but pleasant to wear in warm
On reaching the Tennessee River, Mr. Fort's
fine gray horse grew stubborn, and refused to
step into the large ferry boat, and had to be
blindfolded. The trip was a long and tiresome
one, and the bride was laid up for repairs over a
week; the scorching July sun had dealt roughly
with her delicate complexion, and before she was
aware of it, the back of her neck was deeply
bhstered from the sun shining through the thin
berege skirt of her Shaker bonnet.
The faithful servants did all in their power to
make her feel at home; then and there an ideal
home life began, and Mr. Fort was a prime factor
in making it so.
The following amusing story was often told of
him: He had a nice herd of dairy cows, and
among them was one they called "Stately," the
bell cow. Aunt Margaret was the milk maid,
and she always carried along with her to the cow
pen her ten-year-old son, Nelson, "to keep the
calves off," as they termed it. One summer
evening about sunset, the family were seated on
the front gallery, Mr. Fort, his wife, and their
youngest son, the late W. D. Fort. They were
quietly discussing the expected arrival next day
of some favorite relatives from Paris, Texas, Dr.
Joe Fort's family.
Suddenly Nelson appeared on the scene, and
in breathless excitement exclaimed, "Mars Law-
son, old Stately poked her head in a wagon wheel
up at the lot, and she can't get it out, and mammy
says what must she do about it?"
Mr. Fort sprang to his feet, and on the impulse
of the moment said, "Tell one of the men up at
the lot feeding, to get an axe and cut her fool
Revs. F. C. Plaster, and W. S. Adams, who assisted
in Rev. Horace Carr's ordination at Old Red
River Church, before the Civil War.
head off, quick!" It was too good to keep, and
his son treasured it as a household joke, which
he enjoyed telhng on his kind old father, along
with many others equally as amusing.
But the happy old Riverside home was to
undergo changes. After a few days illness, from
the infirmities of old age, Mr. Fort quietly fell
asleep, July 12, 1891. His remains were laid to
rest with Masonic honors at the old Metcalfe
burying ground on Elk Fork Creek, near Sadlers-
His family feasted on his affections, and his
friends enjoyed the wealth of his noble nature.
:}: s}! * * H: Hs *
Since the lives of most of the good people
mentioned in this little story centered around
Port Royal, I deem it not amiss to tell something
of this historic spot.
Nearly four generations have passed since this
village, which tradition tells us, lacked only one
vote of being the Capitol of the State, was settled.
In 1789, Samuel Wilcox, of Port Royal, South
Carolina, came with his small family and settled
near a large spring, on the left bank of Red
River, at the foot of a ridge called "The Devil's
Backbone." The exact location may be better
known today by pointing the reader to a slight
elevation on the far side of W. N. Gaines' bottom
eld, lying between his "Hill Top" home and
Sulphur Fork Creek, nearly opposite the old
Weatheriord mill site.
Located as he was, between Red River on the
one side and Sulphur Fork Creek on the other,
he soon realized his mistake, for during the high
water season a vast area of this level tract, inchid-
ing his home, was subject to overflow.
So he crossed over Sulphur Fork Creek a few
hundred yards northwest, to a picturesque point
where the creek empties into Red River, and built
a primitive residence, and a blacksmith shop, and
called the place Port Royal, in honor of his native
town in South Carolina. Mr. Wilcox later on
entered about\ one thousand acres of land three
or four miles from Port Royal, on the Graysville
road leading to Kentucky. A portion of his
original purchase is now owned by Mr. Polk
Prince, of District No. 1, Montgomery county.
This was the first permanent settlement made
at Port Royal. But fourteen years earlier, 1775,
the historian tells us of tragic scenes enacted
thereabouts, as follows:
"A famous hunter by the name of Manscoe,
and three companions, camped a few weeks near
where Sulphur Fork Creek empties into Red
River, and here Manscoe had an adventure with
some Indians. Having discovered from their
trail, that a hunting party ©f some sort was in
the vicinity, he went alone to ascertain if possible
who they were.
"On the bank of the river, he saw a camp|fire,
and creeping as close as he dared, he saw two
Indians, whom he recognized as belonging to the
Black Feet tribe. Manscoe was about to retire
to carry the news to his companions, when one
of the Indians arose and came directly toward
him. Manscoe fired, and the Indian wheeled and
ran about fifty yards past his own camp fire and
fell dead over the bluff into the river. The other
Indian made quick time away from the fatal
spot, not knowing, it was supposed, how many
whites were in the attacking party. Manscoe not
knowing the number of savages, beat a hasty
retreat also. Joining his comrades, he returned
in a few hours, accompanied by them, to find the
fugitive Indian had, in the meantime, been to his
camp, packed his scant belongings on his pony,
and left for parts unknown. They followed close
on his trail, the remainder of the day, but never
"Knowing that the Indians would soon return
in full force to avenge the death of their comrade,
Manscoe and his party left the country within
the next few hours, but terribly was the death
of this Indian afterwards avenged. In 1794, ten
3^ears after Clarksville, Tenn., had been incor-
porated and named, Col. Isaac Titsworth, and
his brother John, with their famihes, moved from
North Carohna to the Cumberland country. They
intended locating on Red River, and on the night
of Octol')er 24, 1794, camped at the mouth of
Sulphur Fork Creek, near where the Indian had
been shot by Manscoe. That night a party of
fifty Creek Indians stole upon them, taking them
completely by surprise. Seven of the party,
including Col. Titsworth and his brother, and
their wives were killed and scalped. A negro
woman was badly wounded, but crawled off in
the woods and escaped. The Indians carried off
six prisoners, a negro man, a white man, a grown
daughter of Col. Titsworth, and three little
children. Great excitement reigned, and in a
few hours a party of white men was organized
and on their trail. The Indians discovering'their
approach, tomahawked the children and scalped
them, taking off the whole skins of their heads.
The white man and the negro, they either killed
or carried off with their daughter; none of the
three were ever heard from."
As far back as 1807, the citizenship of Port
Ro}'al received favorable comment, as the follow-
ing from "The Life and Times of Elder Reuben
Ross," will show:.
"Although not a great deal could be said in
praise of the small village of Port Royal, in itself,
near which we are now living, it would be safe to
say, no finer citizenship could have been found
anywhere at this time than in the country around
it, extending into Robertson and Montgomery
counties. In evidence of this, one need only to
mention such names as Fort, Norfleet, North-
ington, Dortch, Baker, Cheatham, Washington,
Bryant, Turner, Blount (Gov. Willie Blount),
Johnson, and others. They were generally men
of large stature, dignified and patriarchal in their
bearing, many of them wealthy, very hospitable,
and always ready to assist those who needed
assistance, especially strangers who came to settle
While the lordly old masters have drifted away
with the "days that are dust," the posterity of a
fine antebellum citizenship ligners yet with us to
bless and beautify the hills and vales of dear old
THERE IS NO DEATH, WHAT SEEMS SO, IS TRAN-
SITION. THIS LIFE OF MORTAL BREATH, IS BUT
A SUBURB OF THE LIFE ELYSIAN, WHOSE PORTAL
WE CALL DEATH.
Of the four most prominent members of the
Carr family, mentioned in the foregoing chapters,
it is a fact worthy of note that each passed from
earth from as many different States. Uncle
Horace, the first to go, died near Port Royal, at
his humble home on the Weatherford farm,
Rev. Altheus Carr died, after a short illness
from fever, at Topeka, Kansas, October, LSSG.
He had been called to Kansas to assist in a revival,
and fell, as it were, at the foot of an unfinished
work. His remains vvere brought back to Ten-
nessee, and laid to rest at Mount Zion, beside
those of his father. The burial of no colored
citizen in this section was ever so largely attended
or greater demonstration of deep sorrow over the
passing of a Christian leader, whose place in many
respects has never been filled. His funeral ora-
tions were delivered by Revs. Houston Metcalfe,
of Clarksville, Tenn., and P. Barker, of Guthrie,
Ky. The latter afterward went as a missionary
Aunt Kitty, after a short illness from pneu-
monia, died October, 1904, at the home of her
daughter-in-law, Mrs. Margaret Manier, of Guthrie,
As before stated, Rev. William Carr died at
Savannah, Georgia, August, 1907.
Geographically speaking, their bodies, at disso-
lution were widely sundered, but their kindred
spirits mingled in sweet communion around the
same Great White Throne.
Of a family of thirteen children, only two are
living, Horace Carr, a good citizen of District
No. 1, Montgomery county, Tenn., and his older
sister, Mrs. Mary Waters, of Ohio.
The remainder of this chapter will be devoted
to the Carneys, a family of colored citizens whose
deeds should not be forgotten by those who
properly appreciate the loyalty of high class ante-
I Vv'ill first speak briefly of the kind old master.
Captain C. N. Carney was born in Halifax county,
North Carolina, August 15th, 1782, and came to
Tennessee in 1808. He was married March 11th,
1824, to Elizabeth Johnson, of Fortson's Spring
neighborhood. District No. 1, Montgomery county.
There were no children by his first marriage. He
was married the second time, 1848, to Miss Mar-
garet C. Lynn, of east Montgomery county.
Three sons blessed this union, viz: Richard Rod-
ney, Thomas, and Norfleet Lynn. The first and
last named still survive, and like their father,
rank among the best citizens of the State. To
them the writer is indebted for valuable local
history gleaned by them from the early settlers
of this country, with whom, by ties of blood, they
were intimately associated.
The Northingtons, Johnsons, Neblets, etc.
Captain Carney descended from the old Revo-
lutionary stock, being the grandson of General
Richard Rodney. The latter 's sword is a cher-
ished heirloom in the family, being owned by his
namesake, R. R. Carney, of Port Royal, Tenn.,
who placed it for safe keeping with his brother,
Dr. N. L. Carney, of Clarksville, Tenn.
Captain Carney owned a large number of
valuable slaves, and a nice plantation on Parson's
Creek, in District No. 5, Montgomery county.
He was kind to his negroes, and they in turn were
of a high order of principle, that responded to
kind treatment. After a short illness from senile
Hall of Benevolent Treasure No. 7, near
Port Royal, Tennessee.
infirmities, Captain Carney died January, 1862,
leaving his widow and two little boys at the old
homestead, unprotected, save by these faithful
family servants. Throughout the excitement inci-
dent to the Civil War, they stood true to the
post of duty, as the following incident will show.
Uncle Isaac Carney, the colored blacksmith on
the premises, worked for the surrounding country
and people of every type came to his shop. One
day a man rode up to the door on a fine young
horse, that was tender footed and jaded, almost
to the point of falling in its tracks. The rider
dismounted and ordered it shod as quickly as
possible. After it was done he drew from his
purse a $20.00 greenback bill to settle. Not
keeping that amount of maney at the shop in war
times, the bill could not be changed, and the
stranger persisted in going to the house for it.
Knowing a timid woman would be frightened by
the appearance of such a looking stranger, Uncle
Isaac accompanied him, with his hammer in his
hand. They changed the money, and on their
return to the shop they were surprised to find
Captain Zachary Grant, Mr. S. H. Northington,
and Mr. C. Daniel waiting to arrest the guerilla
horse thief, who had stolen the fine horse from
a gentleman of Elkton, Ky. He was never again
seen, or heard from in this section, and it was
supposed they made a proper disposition of him.
Uncle Isaac was born in North Carohna, Feb-
ruary 16, 1804, and had a vivid recollection of
things that took place soon after coming to
Tennessee in 180S. During the war, when South-
ern homes were looted of valuables, Mrs. Carney
entrusted her silverware and all moneys not
needed by her, often as much as a thousand
dollars, to Uncle Isaac, who dug a hole under his
cabin floor and deposited same, which he guarded
with vigilant care.
When it seemed necessary for Confederate
recruiting officers to remain clandestinely in this
section, for weeks at a time, Uncle Isaac often
shod their horses, but in no instance was he ever
known to betray one. He told of one occasion
in which he felt some uneasiness. Late one
evening, he was going by way of Sugar Camp
branch to Bennett's distillery for a jug of whiskey
when he heard threatning voices from a thick
undergrowth near the roadside. A new set of
recruiting officers had recently come in, and it
happened to be one of these, who first saw him,
and thinking he might give out information dan-
gerous to them, they were about to sieze him,
when one of the older ones, who knew him, came
to his rescue, and told them to let him pass on,
that he was all right.
Another of Captain Carney's valuable servants
was Peter, whom he brought fom Mr. Richard
Brown, of McAdoo. Peter was a Presbyterian
preacher, of stout build, and ginger cake color.
He was a man of very nice manners, and waited
on Captain Carney, when he officiated at the
musters and military parades. Aunt Sylvia was
his wife. They raised a large family of children,
only one of whom, Frank Carney, of Port Royal,
On account of certain good qualities, Peter was
allowed extra privileges over the average colored
citizen of his day. He had what was termed a
"general pass," permitting him to go where and
when he pleased, unmolested by patrolers. He
owned his own horse, and kept a shot gun. He
did the neighborhood marketing, making frequent
trips to Clarksville, carrying the produce on his
horse, there being but few vehicles in existence.
When in Clarksville, he often stopped at Hon.
Cave Johnsons, a warm personal friend of his
master's, or with Col. George Smith, proprietor
of the old National Hotel, below where the
Franklin House now stands. The last trip he
ever made to Clarksville, he drove the carriage
for Mrs. Carney, and Mrs. Dr. N. L. Northington.
Apropos of colored ministers, Mrs. George F.
Adams, one of the best Christian women that
ever blessed any community, once remarked to
the writer, that she had never witnessed a more
impressive antebellum picture, than that of three
devout colored divines, all of different denomina-
tions, seated side by side one night at old Baker's
camp meeting, listening to a soul-stirring sermon
from Dr. Jno. W. Hanner, Sr. Rev. Horace Carr,
Baptest; Rev. Martin Grant, Methodist, and Rev.
Peter Carney, Cumberland Presbyterian. They
cared little for creeds, and in their humble way
preached Christ, and Him crucified.
The last record made by Captain C. N. Carney
of the birth of his family servants, was that of
Aleck, a valuable, bright colored man, born March
30th, 1840. When the Civil War broke out, Aleck
was just twenty-one, and a man of fine appearance.
In 1863, he and a fellow servant, Caesar Carney,
were pressed into service to work on a Federal
fort at New Providence, Tenn. They were retain-
ed three months. While employed at work raising
a steamboat sunk by the Confederates in Harpeth
River, Ca:sar ran away and came home, and
through the influence of good friends in Clarks-
ville, who knew Col. Bruce, the Federal officer
in command, Mrs. Carney secured the release of
Aleck, who gladly returned home and took up
his work with Uncle Isaac in the blacksmith
shop. Aleck is still in the land of the living; he
owns a comfortable little home on the Port Royal
road leading to Clarksville, from which, by the
assistance of his son, he conducts a successful
blacksmith trade, and strange to say, in his shop
may be seen many of the tools he bought at the
Carney sale, some of which have been in use over
Among the Carney colored people, none ranked
above Betsy, Aleck's sister, a fine looking yellow
woman, who married Dennis Neblett, previously
mentioned. No kinder heart ever beat in human
breast than that of Betsy Carney-Neblett. She
was a fine nurse, and would lay aside her home
work any day to minister to the afflicted of her
neighborhood, and when asked her charges for
same, would say, "I make no charges for Christian
There was an air of dignified independence in
her make up, that attracted even the casual
observer. For instance, she would go to church
dressed in a neat plaid cotton dress, a large house-
keeper's apron, and plain sailor hat, and feel as
comfortable as if clad in the finest fabrics. As-
sisted by her economy, and thrift, her worthy
husband was enabled to buy a small farm, a
portion of the Carney estate, on Parson's Creek,
known as the Carney Quarter.
When there was all-day meeting and dinner
on the ground at Grant's Chapel, Betsy and Dennis
often went along to take charge of the dinner
for some special friends, as Miss Ellen Yates,
Mrs. Dr. Northington, or some of the Grants.
On communion days, when Rev. J. W. CuUom
was pastor in charge, he never failed to go to the
church door and extend an invitation to the
colored people outside to go in and partake of the
Lord's Supper, and it was not uncommon to see
Betsy and Dennis walk reverently down the aisle
and kneel around the chancel. After a long and
useful life, she passed away, ten or fifteen years
ago, and her body was laid to rest on the hillside
near the scene of her birth.
Henry W. Grady, the South 's greatest orator
and statesman, in a speech at Boston, Mass., a
few years before his death, gave a battlefield expe-
rience that was eloquently pathetic. He said:
"In sad memory I see a young Confederate
soldier struck by a fatal bullet, stagger and fall,
and I see a black and shambling figure make his
way through a throng of soldiers, wind his loving
arms about him, and bear him from the field of
carnage, and from the pale lips of that dying
friend, I hear a feeble voice bidding me to follow
that black hero and protect him, if he ever needed
protection, and I was true to my promise."
We who love Southern soil, and cherish Southern
tradition, should pause now and then and pay
due tribute not only to the worthy living, but
to the faithful colored dead "who sleep out under
UNIVERSITY OF N C AT CHAPEL HILL